Does Anxiety Mean You’re Not Trusting God?

by Jen on January 21, 2013

does anxiety mean you're not trusting GodIf you experience anxiety, is it because you’re not trusting God? This question drifts through the minds of many Christians, and the best place to turn for the answer is God’s word.

According to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults a year, causing them to feel filled with fearfulness and uncertainty for an extended period of time.

As a person who struggled with how to handle anxiety for many years, I can remember the fear of not knowing when or where it would strike; the sick stomach; loss of appetite; sleepless nights; attempts to avoid whatever could invoke it.

Nothing helped me overcome anxiety (meaning, not be overcome by it) until I gave up control, turned over my life to God and accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. It required complete trust, and I can only describe the change as “total.”

“Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.”
–St. Ignatius Loyola

Does Anxiety Mean Not Trusting God?


In her post The Cause and Cure for Worry, bible scholar Joyce Meyer says that worry is the opposite of faith–it steals our peace, physically wears us out and can make us sick.

She writes:

Worry is caused by not trusting God to take care of the various situations in our lives. Too often we trust our own abilities, believing that we can figure out how to take care of our own problems.

Before studying the bible, I didn’t know the security of God’s word and that He always keeps His promises. I didn’t know verses to pray in times of need and that I could choose, by faith, to trust His word and not the fearful thoughts.

This makes all the difference, because Jesus said we can’t serve two masters. We either choose to trust God’s truth in times of fear, or we choose to trust fear.

Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.
– Isaiah 44:8

“‘Fear not’ is the most frequent command given in the Bible,” says Monica Reynolds, a Master of Divinity student at Wesley Theological Seminary. “Some estimates tell us that the Bible mentions fear, worry, or anxiety over 500 times.”

When anxiety looms, it can feel like a huge step to trust that God is mightier than what attacks us. Yet God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Tim 1:7)

“I believe that anxiety, or generalized fear, is probably the biggest detractor from many us reaching God’s purpose in our lives,” Reynolds adds.

Trusting God over Anxiety

When we feel the first flashes of anxiety, we can brace ourselves for disaster (no security), or we can take it as a sign to turn to God (security), believing Jesus’ promise: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
–Deuteronomy 31:6

Call it out!

Senior Pastor Deano Ishiki of Calvary Chapel San Mateo says that in our ‘fallen state’ (yes, even as Christ followers), God equips us with safety mechanisms that provide warning signals–such as anxiety–so that when dangers arise, we will turn once again unto His mercy seat.

He adds that in 1 John 4:18, God promises His “perfect love which casts out fear (and anxiety).”

This perspective on anxiety made me realize something: Anxiety may be a warning sign to turn to God, yet if we linger too long in it, we end up turning away from God and toward the anxiety. Battling anxiety and worry in faith means holding on to the truth, over and over again, however long the battle lasts. Sure, it may feel uncomfortable while it lasts, but we know there will be an end.

It’s not easy, especially in the midst of our worst anxiety, but we are told that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3)

“Understand that the enemy always fights the hardest when he knows you are closest to your breakthrough. He’d leave you alone if he thought you were going to live in mediocrity. If you keep pressing on toward your promise, through faith and patience, you will get there.”
–Joel Osteen

If you’re reading this right now, feeling consumed by fear and dread, searching for answers, know that you are not alone. Our God saves.

“When I am afraid I will trust in you.”
–Psalm 56:3

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

BethHempton January 21, 2013 at 9:22 am

Jen – While I turn to God (from years of practice) when I am anxious, I have never considered that the actual sense of anxiety is God’s way of communicating with me. It certainly makes anxiety a less fearful idea when you consider that God may be generating it to get your attention and call you to action, maybe even to connect with Him and seek His truths. Wonderful post…thank you!

Hua January 21, 2013 at 9:50 am

Hi Jen, happy to see another one of your wonderful posts again! I missed reading this blog. :-)

I definitely suffer from anxiety sometimes and I’m guilty of relying on myself to solve my problems. Thanks for the reminder that we should trust our lives to Him.

Jennifer Johns January 21, 2013 at 10:03 am

Beth — I know! This never crossed my mind either that God could use anxiety in any way. It took me days to pray about and think about this. It has opened up a new and–as you said, less fearful–perspective on it.

Hua — Hello! Same here. Whenever I go my own way, it gets worse, not better. I still feel the temptations come on to get really nervous about things, some of the sensations may even start to kick in, and what a comfort it is to trust Him instead of what tempts me to worry. It literally turns the feeling from a tsunami into a manageable wave.

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”
–Psalm 94:19

lisa January 21, 2013 at 11:26 am

Thank you. This was much needed today. I don’t really like J. O. But like the comment he made. Especially one made by St. Ignatius Loyola.

Here’s one but I don’t know who said it. Sin like like a hole you have to keep filling up. The bigger is gets the more dirt you have to shovel into it. (a repeating growing cycle)

Katie January 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

I agree. I feel that God only allows anxiety to tell you to do something or to teach you to trust in Him. However, even though I do believe this, I cant figure out what it is. How can I figure out what God wants from me? How do I know Im doing what He wants? I feel like Im doing my best to follow the path He has laid out for me, but I still get nervous and anxious…is there something Im missing. Dont get me wrong Ive prayed and thought about this, and Ive put my trust in God, and things have gotten better. But it seems like there’s still these lingering bursts of nervousness and thoughts that I cant seem to control. Then, I pray and trust in God and they go away, but still return. I thought after praying and trusting in God to take away the fear and worry, all these issues would go away for good? I really appreciate your posts Jen. They really helped me at the peak of my issues and still.

Jennifer Johns January 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Katie — I used to always think about that and even felt like I couldn’t understand what God’s plan was for my life, but I realize the more I stay in the word, the more clearly I hear His voice and feel convicted by the Spirit about which way to go. This is verse came to mind when I read your comment: “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

Fear and worry… remember that it’s a battle. We’re in the world, but we’re not of the world, as Jesus said. (John 15:19). So when fear and anxiety and these things come on, we have a place to turn, but we have to turn there over and over and over, holding on to our faith to fight the battle and not turning toward and trusting in the fear and anxiety. Trials may not disappear, but how we react to them, deal with them, think about them does change. And when things from the past or regrets tempt us to fear, we have to remember that when we are saved, we are given a NEW life in Christ. We have all sinned, but we must repent, accept our Savior and look forward, move forward in love, not backward. (See Luke 9:62) We all struggle with this, but we’ve been given everything we need to overcome it!

Katie January 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Thank you for responding Jen! You are so helpful!

Cee January 29, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Hi Jen,

I must say that you have a wonderful way with words and definitely God has chosen you to take this path and make a difference in so many lives, by bringing people back to him and his word as HE is the only way and the only truth…. the only security against everything. Thank you.

I ran into your site today and believe that nothing is a coincedence when it comes to things like this. I read many of the posts here, as well as those at another blog you had dating back and have been inspired by you and find that the exchange with others and with you have truly made a difference. I hope that sharing my words will do the same even if just for one person out there.

I was raised in a Christian home and although I may not be versed and may not have exactly followed all the steps I should have faith was always a big part of my life… God has always been in my heart and has always been my strength. (And no matter where my life has wandered, God’s children always come back… and he always welcomes us with open arms!)

I have experienced my issues with anxiety here and there throughout my adult life, but thankfully, I have always been able to pull through with some moments being harder than others… but still find solid ground. During the last few years, I have experienced more difficult times (i.e., my divorce of three plus years ago and now being a single parent). I have found more moments of difficulties with anxiety given insecurities, loneliness and worries that can pile up. I also find that with the failure of my past relationship, I also have a harder time in current relationships and find yet another battle with insecurity and anxiety with that. (I did try meds right after my divorce and that seemed to subside some physical aspects of anxiety, but… I pulled away from the meds eventually and have always found that coming to God and meditating in him has been the only sure thing.)

I have to share with you and with any others that read this that even with all I have said above that I have applied as principles in my life and also feel have been accomplishments against anxiety… STILL, there are moments even today that I find can feel like a battle for me against what I know is true… which is that God is always with me in every step I take and I should not fear. I ask myself many times why do I still battle against this when my heart is with God? Why does anxiety still get the best of me and why is it sometimes so hard to let it go and give things to God?

It is so hard to battle against these feelings of anxiety that sneak up on you and even when you know and have faith… yet, you still physically have to battle against it. My friends… it is a constant battle, but always a constant victory and accomplishment when you place God in control.

I thank you Jen, the posts of those who write here and so much that is derived from it. Specifically, when I read the following comments you have above… it hit close to home and brougth me back to a secure place when I was specifically having a bad day today. ( I have re-copied them below )

“It’s not easy, especially in the midst of our worst anxiety, but we are told that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3)” [We can only become stronger when we press on in faith and keep putting God in control!]

As well as this one:

“Understand that the enemy always fights the hardest when he knows you are closest to your breakthrough. He’d leave you alone if he thought you were going to live in mediocrity. If you keep pressing on toward your promise, through faith and patience, you will get there.”
–Joel Osteen

Right now… I am dealing with some anxiety and must admit that I had found myself having trouble letting go of it and giving it to God. Finding you all on here has made such a difference for me today and I know that it is God’s way of using you all to speak to me and reassure me like he always does. God Bless you all… thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!!

:)

Cee

I thank you and those that comment on here for sharing their thoughts, inspiring scriptures and kind words of encouragement. Please keep doing this and keep sharing as it does make a difference!

Jennifer Johns January 31, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Thanks for sharing what was on your heart Cee! Whenever fear is creeping at my door, it does comfort me to know that I’m not the only one too… just like the LORD tells us:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

God bless you sister :)

Nessa February 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm

This was so hepful! I now know to give all my problems to the Lord all Mighty, Jesus Christ!! Thanks again!

rick March 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm

your very mature !you look very young in pict!im glad to know im not the only one who struggles with faith in this way has been an eye opener for me

Jennifer Johns March 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Just found this as a bit of inspiration when feeling anxious:

“The more you pray, the less you’ll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You’ll feel more patient and less pressured.” — Rick Warren the Purpose of Christmas

larry chitwood April 17, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Please pray for me for healing. And my marriage. I am having very hard time please pray that god touch me. So stressed

Mandy Gill May 14, 2013 at 10:03 am

This is amazing, really spoke to me, thank you so much! :)

mike May 28, 2013 at 6:58 am

there is no fear in love,perfect love cast out fear,because fear involves torment.1 John 4:17
What is this love that cast out fear?For this is the love of God ,that we keep His commandments,and His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3…The security is in obedience to every word of God,with the power of the indwelling Spirit of God to help us and comfort us.God gives His Spirit to all those who obey Him Acts 5:32.Man shall not live by bread alone,but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,spiritual food from the word of God,the Bible,Genesis to Revelation.Matt 4:4,Jesus was being tempted by the devil,and He used scripture to do battle and defeat satan. Deut.8:3 The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God Ephesians 6:17. This is how to conquer worry,anxiety and fear,draw close to God and He will draw close to you.Thats a promise from our Father .

Jedidja July 12, 2013 at 9:47 am

This week I read several blog posts.
They are really good and well thought. Thank you very much. Blessings

Cindy August 14, 2013 at 7:42 am

First time seeing this blog and I can’t stop reading! I suffer from depression, anxiety, worry, and self doubt. In the past these conditions took over my life and made me powerless. I started seeing a counselor a few years back and this did help pull me out of a dangerous situation. My biggest turning point was October 21, 2012. I accepted Jesus into my heart, I gave him everything! I was on top of the world for 6+ months, then I slipped. I wasn’t keeping up with devotionals, slipping back into self doubt, feeling sorry for myself, letting depression take over. I wasn’t sure how this could happen. I was a child of God! This wasn’t suppose to happen to a child of God!!! I got back in the word, back with my brothers and sisters and started to feel that cleansing spirit again. Well, I have to tell you, stumbling upon this blog just renewed my spirit all together!
Yes, I am a child of God and Yes, I will slip but the difference is I can slip and God is there to catch me! The fact that I slip into the fear or anxiety or depression is just a reminder from God to tell me; “It’s okay, I’m here, you can trust me, just give it all back to me”!

Thank you Jen for this inspiring reminder!
Gives me hope that my future is bright and I’m never alone :)

Zak September 8, 2013 at 11:57 am

Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was a big depressed guy who was a worry warrior that worried alot from work, money, driving, the list goes on. I found this site with the help of god. I prayed before researching and I am thankful my god my father he showed me and helped me overcome this disease. i slipped up last night and this past weekend and i was depressed and down because of my guilt from my sins but God does amazing wonders and he just showed me. if anyone wants to be an accountable partner or mentor come on. here’s my email. zakwells36@gmail.com God bless you all and thank you!

rod October 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Wow is right! I have been enveloped in anxiety for the entire summer due to my now ending marriage of 25yrs. I knew that I could not go another step further without gods love and support. …..today I think I found the right place at the right time, thank you jen,thank you all, thank you god!
Rod

Dwana Lashover November 1, 2013 at 8:50 am

Hi. I’ve been battling lymes disease for about a year now. I didn’t expect the anxiety that has come with it. Never experienced this type of anxiety, worry and depression. It’s pure torment!!!!! Wakes me up, if I sleep early morning and can be tormented a long time. It happens every day causing me more and worse symptoms. So bad I don’t know what to do with myself. Feel like pulling hair out. My hubby has been talking to me about the above scriptures. I prayed for something today. Praise God.

Maria November 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I’ve been dealing with anxiety for the past couple of months. Feeling fear and worried all the time. Due to my anxiety I decided to I give my life to the Lord and accepted him in August 2013. Ever since it was like a new beginning in my life. My anxiety stopped for a while. But I still get anxiety from time to time. This battle that I’m struggling with is the worst feeling. With lots of prayer God has spoken to me. He said to have Faith, not to give up and everything will be just fine. To all of you going through this keep your faith and keep going forward. As he guides you to where you need to be and with time anxiety will be vanished from your life. Overall I am so thankful that I found this blog. Thank you all for your postings and thanking GOD for everything.

Kathy November 12, 2013 at 7:17 am

I loved the devotion it came at the perfect time.
I have a nephew in the last weeks of boot camp who is wondering if his body will hold out these verses will be great to send him to remind him God is with him.
I also have a lot of disabilities and God has carried me through many years. But I love these verses and will pray them through the hard times.
Thanks. Greater is He that is in this world than He that is in the World.

carl December 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm

I’m 49, depressed since 10. For the last five days, I wrote suicide notes, calling the suicide hotline daily and attempted suicide more than thrice. I mixed all the meds I am taking including over the counter pills, emptied all bottles and placed all pills inside my mouth!!! But God told me to remove them at once and not swallow them. This is my third severe depression/anxiety, had many episodes of mild to moderate depression and I have been on meds since 1990. Recently, I resigned from a job that offered security and housing because I allowed anxiety provoking incidents to over-rule me. I got this new job, less secure and salary, more hours of work and a garage where I can live. I cursed myself in total anguish while crying out loud to God for help!!! I requested a three weeks leave. Today is Christmas day and at church, I felt totally healed/cured without doubt! I was so overjoyed! The depression /anxiety came back after church hours which was noticeable but I held firm in my belief that God has already healed me. However, I feel I am in better control and I take that as a sign of God’s mercy. Please pray for me, brothers and sisters. Demonic emotions will come back but God will fight for me. Medical literature says that a person with severe depression / anxiety can’t go back to work and I want to challenge that. I want to get rid of meds and stop paying for psychotherapy once and for all. I have surrendered myself totally to God today and I shall continuously pray for healing and thanksgiving as I promise to read the Bible everyday. God spared me from ending my precious life. I know He has great plans for me and that I will not stop trying to reach His goals for me. I want to live!!! I want to cast out all demons of pessimism, hopelessness and unacceptable guilt in His name! Amen! Please share with me your thoughts. Thanks and God bless.

Jen December 26, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Carl — I will pray for you, and I hope all who read this comment and yours above will pray for you because we all know and can relate to spiritual attack, in all the many forms it comes to each of us.

Even 1 Peter 5:9 says (in regard to the devil): “Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.”

Once I started reading the Word and going to weekly bible studies, (which helps us understand more about God our mighty Father and protector), I started to really know what ground I was standing on — it’s the LIVING word! When we read the Word of God, the Spirit helps us understand it deep in our heart and apply it. When we are tempted by anxious thoughts, we can stand up and say, wait a second, this is not God. Lord, help me! Protect me and drive away these temptations in the name of Jesus Christ. Once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, you are HIS… and you are redeemed by Him and Him alone. The devil cannot have you and no person or worries of this world can have your soul — you are already spoken for and saved for eternity.

A friend told me once when she gets bombarded with temptation, she completely surrounds herself with the Word of God, reading it every chance, meditating on His promises, watching online sermons (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/by-topic/the-resurrection-of-christ), listening to K-LOVE in the car, listening to sermons or Christian music at night and even when she’s sleeping… praying and asking others for prayer. When the devil oppresses us, we have to remind him who we are — Children of God! Keep getting to know God… you will grow stronger in Him by His Spirit. You are not alone!

carl December 28, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Thank you, Jen for answering and praying for me. Thank you, brothers and sisters in Jesus for your prayers. Anxiety attacks as well as pessimism especially in the morning. But, brethren, I am beginning to feel better and I believe God has healed my severe depression and anxiety. I still have episodes but I praise and thank God so much for He has allowed it to be on a more tolerable level so I can function very well on a day to day basis. And now that I have surrendered myself to Christ, forgiving myself and everyone who have hurt me, I am strongly convinced that I will be completely cured of these spiritual maladies in God’s own perfect timing. I rejoice and thank God for all the blessing He has given me – no matter how small or big they are. I believe that God will return all that was lost and in bigger quantities. Praise the Lord!!!

Quan February 11, 2014 at 9:33 pm

I read proverbs alot to receive understanding. I’m a young family man. Trying to get to the place of peace! Asking for guidance and courage be to grow up in faith.

Anne March 29, 2014 at 9:19 am

Hello! I am glad I found this site! Im 22 years old and have been a chrisitan my whole life! There has never been a stable man in my life since my dad passed away and my moms husband has been in jail. Ive been praying for gods will in my life for everything and every relationship. For the past 2 years I panic and go through anxiety whenever I get close to a guy. I worry “is this the one?” “Am i in gods will?” Fear overwhelms me and I push them away. I mean it feels like I go through hell burning with anxiety everytime I talk to a potential guy. I used to think it was god convicting and leading me away from the wrong ones. Until I met my now bf who has been amazing to me! Hes so wonderful but the anxiety still has a hold of me. Everyday im thinking “if hes the right guy you should have peace.” “Break up with him because its not right just like the others!”. Its been 2 months and im both happy and stressed! He knows about my anxieties and hes been such a comfort. Hes also in ministry with me! Does this sound like fear to you? My pastor toled me I need to face my fear and not run away. Guys I dont want to run away but what if this anxiety doesnt leave? Does anyone have advice?

jen May 25, 2014 at 12:35 am

i am so scared of my periods ,i am terrified of the blood and that they will not finish on time that i bleed to much my doctor knows about this and try and help me ,this has been going on for a long long time i am not a young girl starting her periods i am 54 years old, i have had a hormone check and i am no where near the menopause ,i pray all the time for God to take away the fear and that i can get through it ,i suffer with accute anxiety and panic attacks ,i am useless i worry all the time

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